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Ecological uniformitarianism - key or lock?

03 - 04 March 2022
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Event type:
Conference, Virtual event
Organised by:
Geological Society Events
Virtual event
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Ecological uniformitarianism - key or lock?

The meaning and value of uniformitarianism has been debated since Charles Lyell’s exposition of the philosophy in the mid-19th century. The popular formulation as ‘the present is the key to the past’ is clearly inadequate when applied to the scale of processes: catastrophic events, of a scale not observed at present, undoubtedly occurred in the past. It is also questionable whether uniformity should be assumed above the level of processes, as in projection of the modern ecological characteristics of species onto fossil counterparts for the purpose of palaeoenvironmental interpretation. This ‘ecological uniformitarianism’ is challenged by the occurrence of invasive species, around 50% of which show niche change. But how common is niche change in general, and in what way should we modify our approach to palaeoenvironmental interpretation in light of its occurrence? We seek contributions from ecologists and palaeoecologists to address these questions, which have importance not only for our understanding of the past but also for our management of the future, as species are faced by continuing anthropogenic environmental perturbation.


Andrew L.A. Johnson (University of Derby)

Elizabeth M. Harper (University of Cambridge)

Richard J. Twitchett (Natural History Museum, London)

Jean-François Cudennec (University of Derby)


Registration will close 24 hours before the event takes place.

GSL Student Fellows can register for free.


We welcome abstract submissions for this virtual conference. Presenters may request a talk, or a flash talk (2 min) and poster.

Please complete this form

Deadline for abstracts Friday 14 January


This event will be held virtually.

Delegates will receive joining instructions on 2 March 2022, after midday when registration has closed.


Please email with any enquiries.

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Registration rates

£ 45.00
£ 65.00
£ 30.00
£ 20.00

Geolsoc Contact

Conference Office

The Geological Society
Burlington House